Gas Certificates – Warning for Residential Landlords19th June 2018

Regular readers of the EMG blog (are there any out there?) might remember that we have previously highlighted the increasing pitfalls that lie in wait for the unwary residential landlord (https://www.emgsolicitors.com/make-sure-residential-letting-goes-smoothly-quick-guide-landlords). Everyone understands that legislation is there to protect tenants from unsafe living accommodation, but the flip side of the coin is that residential landlords can find it difficult to navigate the increasing volume of rules and regulations. A simple mistake can make it difficult to evict the tenant, or even mean you have to pay compensation.

Now a new decision from a highly experienced housing judge in the case of Caridon Properties Ltd. v Shooltz has hammered home the potential jeopardy for landlords who don’t follow the rules. The Assured Shorthold Tenancy regulations say that the landlord has to give the tenant a valid, up to date gas safety certificate before the tenant moves in. This is a “prescribed requirement”, which means that if the landlord is in breach, they can’t serve a s. 21 Notice, the easiest way of giving a tenant notice to leave.

Commentary on these rules had assumed that if the landlord had failed to serve the certificate at the beginning of the tenancy, he could bring the paperwork up to date before serving the Notice. This is what Caridon Properties thought they had succeeded in doing when they served the gas certificate on their tenant, Monty Shooltz, eleven months after the tenancy began. The County Court judge slapped down this argument and said that if you as the landlord let a property which was potentially unsafe as not having an up to date gas certificate, you cannot expect to be able to serve a s. 21 Notice at any time, ever, during the life of the tenancy.

The moral is clear: landlords need to get all their paperwork in order before the start of the tenancy, otherwise the Court is unlikely to show any mercy. Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you need advice about these issues.